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Does it feel like your sweet Golden Retriever puppy has turned into a baby shark? I’m talking about the notorious biting and nipping phase that every puppy owner suffers through. Well, there’s no need to suffer anymore! Find out the 10 tips to stop Golden Retriever puppy biting, before your arms and legs look like a battlefield.
But first, before we get to the 10 tips, we’ll answer some common questions on puppy biting, and by the end of this article, you’ll have a better understanding of why puppies bite and how to stop it.
Why Do Golden Retriever Puppies Bite So Much?
They Are Naturally Mouthy
Golden Retrievers are a mouthy breed, to begin with, they are naturally inclined to pick up and hold anything and everything in their mouths. While it may seem like there is something wrong with your puppy to cause him or her to bite so much, rest assured, all puppies bite, not just Golden Retriever puppies.
It’s How They Discover The World
Puppy biting is 100% normal, it is part of your puppy’s development. A puppy doesn’t have hands like we do to hold and touch things, they use their mouths to discover the world, which means chomping down on anything and everything.
When you see a litter of pups play together, they often nip and bite at one another. It is their way of socializing and initiating play. Your puppy will bite and nip at you during playtime with you because it is a natural behaviour to them.
They Are Teething
Many people associate puppy biting with teething, however when a puppy is teething they will resort to chewing and mouthing in order to relieve their pain. They may chew or mouth on your hands and fingers, but teething is not the cause of biting that every puppy owner experiences. Puppy biting is most often just play.
To summarize, puppy biting is normal and should be expected as a puppy owner. The good news is that it doesn’t last forever, which brings us to the million-dollar question…
At What Age Will My Golden Retriever Puppy Stop Biting?
In general, biting will naturally subside in Golden Retriever puppies around the age of 6-7 months. This is around the time that their adult teeth have come in. Puppies at this age usually already know how to moderate their bite, and will not bite or nip at you as much as they did when they were younger.
While biting anything and everything is normal behaviour to your puppy, it is not something that you want your puppy to continue to do. It is up to you to teach your puppy not to bite humans, especially children.
Common Mistakes That Make Puppy Biting Worse
You may be provoking and prolonging your puppy’s biting without even knowing it. Take a look at the common mistakes puppy owners often make, and learn to avoid them.
Being Too Excited Around Your Puppy
Engaging in rough play, chasing your puppy, waving your hands in your puppy’s face, or grabbing at your puppy, are all things that create excitement for your puppy. Puppies who are excited bite more.
Children often fall victim to the most puppy bites because they get very excited around puppies and this just gets the puppy going which results in biting.
Rewarding Your Puppy With Attention After Biting
Puppies bite to get your attention and to initiate play. Any attention that you give your puppy after they bite you will seem like a reward to your puppy, and the biting will just continue.
Yelling at your puppy, pushing them away, talking to your puppy, or even looking at them is giving them the attention that they want. Don’t fall victim to their trap, when your puppy bites you, get up and walk away.
Not Teaching Your Puppy Bite Inhibition
Bite inhibition is a very important skill that your puppy must learn. Bite inhibition is when your puppy learns how to control the strength of his bite.
Puppies learn this skill when they are with their littermates, which is why they need to stay with them and their mother until they are 8 weeks old. Playing with their littermates teaches puppies that biting too hard hurts and will end playtime. Biting too hard on their mother will get the puppy scolded and they won’t get fed. The puppy then learns to bite softer.
When your puppy comes home with you, it is up to you to teach your puppy how to control the force of their bite. Biting down on the thick fur coat of his mother or littermates is a lot different than biting down on human skin.
By not teaching your puppy bite inhibition, you will risk your puppy turning into a dangerous adult. Puppy bites are a lot different than adult dog bites.
10 Tips To Stop Golden Retriever Puppy Biting
It is important to remember that your Golden Retriever puppy needs to bite in order to learn bite inhibition. Once your puppy learns how to control the strength of his bite, eventually the bites become gentler, and in time, your puppy will learn to stop biting altogether.
Let’s look at 10 tips to stop your puppy from biting.
1. Let Out A Loud “Yelp” and Walk Away
When your puppy bites you, you need to let your puppy know that his bite hurts. This is part of teaching your puppy bite inhibition. Letting out a loud “yelp” will startle your puppy. This is a way to mimic how puppies play together, when one puppy bites another puppy too hard, that puppy yelps in pain, and will walk away.
Most puppies will stop after being startled by the loud “yelp”, but it could also backfire. In some cases, puppies could get even more worked up by the noise and keep on biting. This is when you need to walk away.
When your puppy has calmed down, you can resume playing with your puppy. When your puppy bites you again, repeat the steps of yelping and walking away. Eventually, your puppy will learn to soften his bite, because biting too hard ends playtime.
The following video discusses why puppies bite, how to teach bite inhibition and how to survive puppy biting.
2. Redirect Biting
When your puppy starts mouthing or biting at your hands, arms, legs, or any other part of your body, you need to remove your pup’s jaw from your skin and offer a chew toy instead.
Redirecting your puppy’s biting to something that is chew-appropriate lets your puppy know that biting on you is not acceptable. It is a good idea to have a few chew toys on hand to offer up as a distraction from your skin. Check out this list of the best teething toys for puppies.
3. Give A Command
All puppies should learn and know the basic puppy training commands, not only do they make your puppy grow into an obedient dog, but some commands can actually save your dog’s life.
When your puppy starts biting you, give your puppy a command like “leave it”, “sit”, or “down”. This will get your puppy to stop and focus on being obedient.
4. Exercise Your Pup’s Mind and Body
Puppy biting and nipping can sometimes occur when your puppy is bored. A great way to solve boredom is by going for a walk with your puppy. Not only will your pup get exercise, but being outdoors will allow your pup to experience the sights and sounds and different smells, which will also stimulate your puppy’s mind.
Be sure to let your puppy sniff and explore, but be careful because Golden Retriever puppies are notorious for trying to eat everything that they shouldn’t.
How much exercise should you give your Golden Retriever puppy? A good rule of thumb is 5 minutes of exercise for every month that your puppy is alive. So a 3-month-old puppy should get 15 minutes of exercise a day, a 5-month-old puppy should get 25 minutes per day, and so on. This is in addition to and not instead of playtime.
5. Use A Taste Deterrent
You may or may not have heard of Bitter Apple Spray, this stuff is a godsend to all puppy owners. It is a taste deterrent that prevents your puppy from chewing or biting on things they shouldn’t. Most puppy owners will spray this stuff on their furniture so that their pup doesn’t chew on it.
Bitter Apple Spray can also be used to prevent your puppy from nipping and biting at you. Before you interact with your puppy, spray it on your arms, legs, pant legs, or sleeves, anywhere that your puppy likes to nip at you. Once your puppy bites at you, he will get a bad taste in his mouth and will stop.
Bitter Apple Spray may not work on all puppies, some may actually develop a taste for it. I know that when my Golden Retriever Ellie was a pup this stuff worked amazingly well, but as she got older she developed a taste for bitter things such as crab apples which are extremely sour and she once sucked on a vinegar packet that was lying on the ground!
6. Reward Good Behaviour
Every time your puppy stops biting and nipping at you, you need to see this as a positive behaviour. Good behaviour should be rewarded so that your puppy learns that he did something good. Rewarding good behaviour with affection and praise is great, you can also use treats, or toys, sometimes the best reward for your puppy is just spending time with them.
7. Be Patient and Consistent
Owning a puppy requires a lot of patience! It is so easy to lose your patience at times, but you need to know that your puppy is learning what is right and wrong, and that takes time. It might not happen overnight, but as long as you remain consistent and patient, your pup will learn good behaviour.
8. Engage In Non-Contact Forms Of Play
Tug-of-war and fetch are great games to play with your puppy to keep them from nipping at you. If your puppy is nipping at your pant legs or sleeves, chances are he is loving the tugging feeling and is actually already playing tug-of-war. Instead of using your clothing, redirect his attention to a rope toy. This way your puppy has fun and your clothes aren’t ruined.
One thing to be careful of is being too rough with tug-of-war, especially when your puppy is going through his teething phase. You don’t want your puppy’s teeth to get damaged or be pulled out.
A game of fetch offers your pup a distraction from biting, and Golden Retriever puppies naturally love to retrieve things. This is a great way to also teach your puppy to drop it, by offering a treat when your puppy drops the ball or rope toy.
9. Socialize Your Puppy With Other Dogs
Socializing your puppy is an important step in your puppy’s development. A well-socialized puppy will be less likely to exhibit any unwanted behaviours later on. Enrolling your pup in puppy kindergarten or arranging some play dates with other dogs who are friendly and vaccinated is a great way for your pup to learn social skills.
Other dogs are sometimes the best teachers for a puppy because they will let your puppy know what is okay for play and what is not okay, in terms of biting and nipping. Always supervise your puppy while playing with other dogs.
10. Remain Calm And Don’t Yell Or Punish Your Puppy
Your puppy will certainly get on your nerves from time to time, but it is important to always remain calm and never resort to yelling or punishing your puppy. Yelling at your puppy will only make your puppy scared and confused as well as lose trust and respect for you.
Common mistakes people make when their puppy is biting are pushing them away, clamping down on their mouths or spraying them in the face with water. All of these are a bad idea! Your puppy could see this behaviour as a form of play and continue biting and nipping at you even harder.
If you remain calm and use a firm voice (not yelling), your pup will see you as in charge. Puppies and dogs often exhibit the same behaviour as we do, if you get upset and start yelling, your puppy will just get even more excited.
Can Golden Retriever Puppy Biting Be A Sign Of Aggression?
As unpleasant as puppy biting is, it is normal behaviour. Your puppy biting and nipping at you with a mouth full of shark teeth may seem aggressive, but it is most often just out of curiosity and play behaviour.
Golden Retrievers are known for their calm and gentle demeanour, but there are rare instances where you may have an aggressive puppy on your hands. Puppies who have been taken away from their litter earlier than 7-8 weeks, bad breeding, being abused, a chemical imbalance, and not being socialized are all reasons for aggression in puppies.
Signs of an aggressive puppy include barking, growling, lunging at you or another dog, a stiff posture, and showing teeth. If you think your puppy is aggressive, it is important to work with a professional dog trainer or behaviourist in order to find out the reasons for aggression and work on correcting the behaviour before it gets worse.
The above 10 tips to stop Golden Retriever puppy biting will certainly help you through your puppy’s notorious biting phase. It is important to keep your calm and work with your puppy to teach him the important skill of bite inhibition, and to redirect his biting to more appropriate behaviour. Socializing your puppy, as well as rewarding good behaviour will all help to turn your puppy into a well-behaved dog.
Have you tried any of the tips mentioned above? Do you have any other tips to stop Golden Retriever puppy biting? Share your thoughts and comments below, as well as any questions you may have. I would love to hear from you.
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